Friday, February 29, 2008

That’s it?!?

John McCain’s campaign raised $12 million in February.
That may sound like a lot, and it is, but when you consider that Hillary Clinton raised $35 million and Barack Obama raised close to $50 million during the same time period, it’s chicken feed.
But this is consistent with how the entire election season has been going. Three to four times as many Democrats are turning out to vote in the primaries as Republicans. When McCain holds a campaign rally, he attracts just a fraction of the number that either Hillary or Obama attract.
Just imagine when the primary race is over and the Hillary people come on board with the Obama campaign (the most likely scenario). They are going to swamp the Republicans in November. Most of the Republican’s big money men know this and that is why they are keeping their wallets closed for this election. They don’t like to throw away their money on losing causes. And the Republican presidential campaign is a lost cause no matter who the nominee is.

Whose side are they on??

One reason I’ll be glad when this primary campaign is over is to put an end to garbage like this. Why is Hillary cutting ads for John McCain? Sheesh!

I was thinking the same thing yesterday when I heard Hillary supporter Henry Cisneros on the logal wingnut radio station WOAI 1200 being interviewed by Joe Pags. Pags is one of those “John McCain is not conservative enough for me” nut jobs who will end up supporting McCain in the fall anyway. And here he was interviewing Cisneros and delighting in getting the former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary to take cheap pot shots at Obama.
The only good things is that these “my opponent doesn’t have enough experience” attacks are largely ineffective. Otherwise, George W. Bush would never have been almost elected in 2000.

But when it comes to internal bickering, I don’t think Democrats can hold a candle to the kind of vicious dog-eat-dog battles that go on in the Republican primary. I heard a radio ad for Republican state Rep. Nathan Macias that made it sound like his Republican opponent is running on Ralph Nader’s Green Party ticket. The ad is mean and nasty and vicious, and then it has the audacity at the very end to accuse Macias’ opponent of “running a negative campaign.” Go figure.

And listening to Quico Canseco’s radio ads makes me hope Lyle Larson will pull off a victory despite being outspent nearly 10-1 in the race. Canseco is shamelessly and ignorantly demagouging over the illegal immigration issue. Not only do the demogouges make the illegal immigration issue into a bigger problem than it really is, but their proposed solution is fanciful nonsense that will only exacerbate the problem over the long run. You CANNOT deport 12 million people who are already here and have long ago enmeshed themselves into our society. Providing them with a means to obtain citizenship is not just doing them a favor (not to mention their children), it is doing society in general a favor. Giving them citizenship means they will be able to serve society as well as benefit from it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An endorsement (not)

I am constantly amazed that I actually have a U.S. Congressman representing me who I like and can support - Ciro Rodriguez. And a state senator too - Carlos Uresti.
But my state representative is a little rightwing toad by the name of Frank Corte Jr.
I just heard an ad for Corte today on the local wingnut radio station (WOAI) and it reminded me that he actually has a primary opponent this year, the equally loathsome and dumb as a brick Tony Kosub.

So I just wanted to take a minute to announce my endorsement of Tony Kosub in his bid to take down Corte Jr. in the Republican primary. Not because I want Kosub representing me any more than Corte Jr., but because on a tactical level it would be easier for a Democrat to run against Kosub in the fall. Kosub has not built up the name recognition, the campaign warchest or the legislative experience that Corte Jr. has. Therefore he would be easier to knock off in the general election, and, in the event that he does get into office, God forbid, he would be less effective and less able to screw things up.

The Hagee-Farrakhan double standard

Glenn Greenwald has another excellent post up today in which he calls attention to what I would call the Hagee-Farrakhan double standard in our political discourse.

Why is Louis Farrakhan deemed by our political establishment to be so radioactive as to not be fit for good company -- black candidates are required to repudiate his support even when they haven't sought it and denounce his views even when they've never advocated anything close to those views -- but John Hagee is a perfectly acceptable figure whom mainstream GOP politicians are free to court without any consequences or media objections?

John Hagee is the pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church which is just down the road from my house. The first thing you should know about Hagee is that he is a hypocrite. Like many religious right preachers, Hagee loudly denounces people who commit sexual infidelity (especially the homosexual kind) and says that “Christians... don’t get divorced...”
And yet, Hagee’s first marriage of 15 years ended in divorce in 1975 as a result of his own infidelity. Rather than acknowledge this, Hagee tries to cover it up today as he does on his web site where he claims that he and his current wife Diana “have five married children.”
But two of those children were actually with his first wife who has apparently been excised from his memory.
In addition to being an adulterer, Hagee reportedly rakes in millions of dollars each year through his tax-exempt television ministry.
But Hagee is most controversial when it comes to his extreme views on the Middle East. He is downright racist when it comes to Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular - having claimed that all “who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”
Hagee also claims that there is a Biblical imperative for the U.S. to attack Iran and supports a pre-emptive strike on Iran as a first step toward fulfilling his twisted interpretations of Biblical prophesies.

But, as Greenwald notes, none of these extremist views have made Hagee (or Robertson or Falwell or Dobson) the kind of political pariah that Louis Farrakhan has become.
Farrakhan has made many controversial statements over the years that have been deemed both racist and anti-semitic. The difference that I can tell, however, is that today Farrakhan denies having said many of these things or simply does not say them anymore, whereas Hagee continues to make the same controversial statements again and again without consequence.
Thus we have the situation we saw just the other day where on the one hand Barack Obama is being hounded by Tim Russert to denounce Farrakhan despite never having sought his favor or endorsing his views; while at the same time John McCain is openly accepting the praise and endorsement of Hagee at his church in San Antonio.
A shameless double standard if ever there was one.

Vote cast

I cast my vote yesterday. I went to an early voting site at the library nearest to my house. It was around 5 p.m. when I arrived and there actually was a bit of a line, but not too bad and I was in an out in about 10 minutes. I couldn’t find my current voters card, so I brought my old one that had expired in November and they were perfectly fine with that. That and my driver’s license was all I needed.
They gave me a slip of paper with my name on it that I can use to attend my precinct caucus meeting after the polls close next Tuesday. I may try to go just out of curiosity. I bet that it will be crowded.
This is only the second time I’ve been able to vote in a contested presidential primary in Texas. The first time was in 1988, and ironically I voted for a black man then too. Four years prior to that, I had cast my first vote ever for Ronald Reagan. But by 1988 I had done a complete about face. I voted for Jesse Jackson in the primary not because I thought he could actually win, but because I wanted to send a message that I wanted a strong liberal candidate. We ended up with Michael Dukakis instead, but I enthusiastically backed his campaign to the bitter end.
This time I was not sending a protest vote. Rather, I think my candidate will actually win.
A actually got to vote in one other contested presidential primary, but that was while I was living in Connecticut in 1992. I cast my vote for Bill Clinton that year largely because I had been so impressed after seeing him in person give a speech to the Middletown Chamber of Commerce. He ended up losing the Connecticut primary to Jerry Brown, but won the overall election nonetheless.
I also got to see Hillary Clinton speak at a campaign rally on the Yale University campus that year as well. We lived close to New Haven at the time. I remember being impressed by her as well. They made quite a team.
Hillary will be back in San Antonio this Friday for a campaign rally and so will Barack Obama. It will be ineresting to see who can draw the larger crowd, although I think it won’t be any contest.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. RIP

William F. Buckley Jr. was one of those conservatives for whom I had a great deal of respect. I admired his willingness to engage the other side in debate. His TV show Firing Line provided a national outlet for prominent liberals of that era such as Gore Vidal, John Kenneth Galbraith and Noam Chomsky to gain some badly needed exposure.
Conservative commentators today, by contrast, are much less educated and very much unwilling to engage the other side in a direct debate. Can you imagine Rush Limbaugh inviting someone like Chomsky or Vidal onto his radio show and actually allowing them to talk?
I saw Buckley in person once when I was at Texas A&M in the mid-1980s as part of a current affairs program at the university. It was a live debate between Buckley and Galbraith on the merits or demerits of Big, or as Galbraith corrected, Strong Government. At the time, I think I was siding with Buckley. I have long since switched to Galbraith.
When I lived in Connecticut, Buckley’s newspaper columns were widely distributed and I would read him every week. I remember my impression at the time was that he would cram as many big words as he could into each column and often times not come to any clear point.
In his later years, as the modern conservative movement was becoming more and more radicalized, he stayed grounded in the conservativism of the past. He was highly critical of President Bush and the war in Iraq and was thereafter largely sidelined by his ideological heirs.

Steroid obsession

Aaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Why is Henry Waxman still wasting time on this?

Congress asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Roger Clemens "committed perjury and made knowingly false statements" to a House committee.

This is all “he said-she said” nonsense. They can’t prove squat! I hope that Mukasey throws this back in Waxman’s face and tells him to stick it in his ear.
I know that investigating all the myriad Bush scandals is not as glamorous as going after a baseball superstar, but I’d really appreciate it if Waxman would go back to doing his real job.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Even temperment

One thing that has impressed me about Barack Obama lately is his even temperment. Nothing seems to ruffle his feathers or break his stride. He doesn’t raise his voice, he doesn’t get testy or perturbed. In fact, he seems to have handled all the pressures of the campaign amazingly well.
Glenn Greenwald has a good post about how Obama effectively handled a rightwing attack on his patriotism without getting defensive and agitated.
So far, this is one of the qualities I like best with Obama and it contrasts well right now with the shrill tone that Hillary Clinton has lately adopted as she desperately tries to salvage her presidential prospects.
Clinton’s “outrage” the other day over the content of some Obama campaign fliers was clearly a tactical effort on her part to try and link Obama to someone most Democrats despise - Karl Rove. You know that Clinton did not just pick up one of these flyers the other day and fly into a rage. Rather, there was probably a strategy session where they came up with the idea of trying to link Obama to Rove, followed by a search through the campaign literature for something that they could pretend to get upset about. It all came across as very fake and very staged. But the point was not to reach out to politically astute people, but rather those who don’t pay much attention to these things and would be more likely to be persuaded by such mock outrage.
Needless to say, I’ll be glad when this is all over and the Democrats can all kiss and make up and stop all the sniping and backstabbing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Running Mates

An interesting column today from George Will speculating about who John McCain is likely to tap as his VP choice. After briefly toying with and then dismissing the ideo of a woman (Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison) and a black man (Gen. Colin Powell), Will gives us a list of five or six WASPy males who are currently preening for the job.
Before reading the Will piece, I was prepared to make a bold prediction that McCain would try and exploit the Hispanic community’s reluctance to support Obama by picking a right-wing Hispanic as his running mate — someone like Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida.
But that didn’t seem to cross Will’s radar screen, so perhaps it is something McCain will not consider. Maybe they are afraid it would further enrage the anti-immigrant wingnut faction of the party.

Meanwhile, on the other side I have said before that Bill Richardson would be a smart choice for Obama and would go a long way at bridging the black-Hispanic gap that currently exists. But they may also decide that having one minority on the tickets is groundbreaking enough and play it safe by going with a white male. I hear that John Edwards is available.

Oscar impressions

Yawn! I wasn’t terribly interested in the Oscars this year. Once again, I have yet to see any of the major category nominees and it is unlikely that I will rush out and see them anytime soon. The only one I wouldn’t mind seeing sooner than later is Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd”.
I wouldn’t mind eventually seeing “No Country For Old Men” “There Will Be Blood” and “Michael Clayton”, but I’ve said the same thing in the past about other Oscar films that I have yet to see. I’ll probably never see “Atonement” or “Juno”.

The best film I saw all year (which I finally watched over the weekend) was the “Bourne Ultimatum”, which I was delighted to see win three Oscars, a sweep of every category it was nominated for. I was also happy that “Ratatouille” won for best animated film, although it should have been nominated for Best Picture as well.
But the Academy has even less respect for action/adventure movies than it does for comedies. Thus the past oversights for all time great films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I thought the acting awards were fairly predictable except for Best Supporting Actress which I figured would go to Cate Blanchett. I was disappointed with the Oscar choice for Best Song going to some independent film no one has ever heard of and no one will ever see, passing over three Disney songs from “Enchanted”. I can pretty much guarantee that I will soon own a copy of “Enchanted” and know all those songs by heart, while I will probably never hear the other song again.

But that is what the Academy likes to do these days. Diss the big megaplex movies that most Americans get to see in favor of little known independents that you would be lucky to find at your local video store in a year. This somehow demonstrates the Academy’s superiority and elite tastes compared to the mongrel hordes who shell out most of the money that supports the industry in the first place.
If the Academy wants to honor these kinds of movies every year, then they should put their money where their mouths are and back these films from the get go. Give them enough financing to get better distribution and advertizing and marketing budgets so that people will actually have a chance to go see them during the year instead of only having a choice of films that the Academy typically turns its nose up to.